WELCOME TO AGRABAH!
The Disney Theatrical production of the 1992 classic animated film Aladdin has been dazzling the stage of the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway in New York since March 2014. Now, Chicagoans can get in on the fun without leaving home because Agrabah and the magnificent tale of “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp” is right here at our very own Cadillac Palace Theater.
MY NEW FAVORITE AND A MUST SEE AGAIN
I had the opportunity to mingle in the theatre lounge with my lovely wife before the show. Company Manager, Michael Height (@MichaelHeightNY), was amongst the crowd and he asked a group of us if it was our first time to attend the show (little did I know, it was a very valid question as I’m probably going to see it again). It was all of our first time to see it and one among us hadn’t seen any musicals at all!
He asked me what was my favorite show so far and I told him it was impossible to pick. I’ve seen Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity and the Lion King in Vegas; blew my hair back. I’ve seen the Blue Man Group; fun interactive dance party! I’ve seen Bizet’s Opera Carmen; que c’est beau! How could I pick a favorite?
Well, after seeing Aladdin, I can definitively say that it is my favorite. I loved all the other shows for various reasons, but this one shocked and awed me and transported me to the best parts of my childhood.
GENIE, JINN, & JE NE SAIS QUOI !!!
Anthony Murphy (@stanthonysings) as Genie, literally got the show started with a warm welcome and introduction to Agrabah and the opening number “Arabian Nights” with the company. Any fan of the animated film remembers the late Robin Williams lending his unique comic flair to the role. So how does one translate that CGI powered iconography to the stage, well with even more comic flair and je ne sais quoi! Murphy acts as Master of Ceremonies and is a definite crowd pleaser. He breaks the so called “fourth wall” and talks to the Chicago audience, wooing all in the process.
Then we meet our titular character, Aladdin, played by the refreshingly dreamy Jacob Dickey (@biguglyjacob) in the musical numbers “One Jump Ahead” and the emotionally charged “Proud of Your Boy”, sung with such conviction that I might have teared up…might have.
The iconic Princess Jasmine, played by the enchanting Isabelle McCalla (@izzymccalla), graces us during the number “These Palace Walls”. Jasmine isn’t a helpless Princess waiting to be saved, either…
Jafar and Iago, played by Jonathan Weir and Reggie de Leon, respectively, were the kind of bad guys you didn’t know you missed — fabulously dressed, over-the-top, and not real at all .
Aladdin’s friends, Babkak (Zach Bencal), Kassim (Mike Longo), and Omar (Philippe Arroyo), are adorable, street-hustling squad goals. They bring even more comedic relief to the performance. JC Montgomery plays the Sultan, Jasmine’s father, and he even has a few chuckle worthy one-liners.
FRIEND LIKE ME
I must say though, the pièce de résistance of the show happened in Act I and it started with the introduction of a magnificent set design. Aladdin enters the “Cave of Wonders” , and it is a sight to behold! Then he unleashes Genie to perform the lionized “Friend Like Me.” Genie, Aladdin, and the Ensemble performed the number for more the 15 minutes. The choreography, the set design and changes, and the sheer stagecraft of Murphy dazzled the house!!! WW.!
Act II didn’t disappoint, either. The hits, “Prince Ali” and “A Whole New World” were astonishing. The magic carpet ride was amazing to see done on stage. I don’t know how they pulled it off, but they did and it was magical. Also, I enjoyed Aladdin’s friends doing “High Adventure”.
I guess all-in-all what makes this such a stand-out performance is that everything was on POINT. The set design, choreography, orchestra, singing, acting, EVERYTHING, ALL OF THE THINGS, were amazing and there were so many amazing musical numbers 17+.
I SAT DOWN TO ACT I LIKE THIS (SKEPTICAL):
WALKED INTO INTERMISSION LIKE THIS (MORE PLEASE!!):
Aladdin will be here until September 10th, so you’ve got time but don’t delay! You’ll want to see it again, trust.
Runtime: 2 hours and 30 minutes with a 15 minute intermission